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Damn You, Curious George!

10/28/2015

Belle

"My Mama is blogging about sleep again!"

“My Mama is blogging about sleep again!”

You know what I don’t miss writing about? Baby sleep. Baby sleep consumed this blog and my life for quite a while. Nine months to be exact. Nine sleepless, nightmarish months that even today make me shudder and whip out the condoms. Sleeplessness for nine months is the best birth control.

Thanks to the assistance of a sleep coach and the investment of about $300, Sabine is now an excellent nighttime sleeper. Naps are still a shit-show but I pick-and-choose my battles. At night she goes down easily by 7:30 p.m. and sleeps until 6:30 or 7 a.m. PRAISE GOD!

Several weeks ago I was getting ready while she rotted her brain watched some Curious George. Sabine loves Curious George and will cheer and laugh along with him for the entire 30 minute show giving me time to shower and pull myself together. This particular day I did not hear much laughing. Instead I heard terrified gasps, “OH NO!” and then the sound of tiny frantic feet running to the bathroom to “tell Mama.”

I wandered in my towel and sat for a few minutes to see what the fuss was about and you know what I found? Curious George wide awake, not sleeping and being afraid of the dark.

Excuse me, Curious George producers, what that fuck were you thinking? Yes, some kids have problems with the dark and their parents can buy a book or a nightlight to help them deal with it. Meanwhile many other kids are blissfully ignorant of the dangers that come with dark and their parents, who are enjoying sleep, want to keep it that way.

This one seemingly harmless episode of Curious George has sent our sleep flying out of control. Sabine started waking earlier and earlier crying for a Mama and a flashlight. Then she started waking at night and crying for 3 minutes before passing back out – just enough time for me to be wide awake and wondering if she was now sleeping in a  pile of vomited noodles (something that has happened multiple times and is so not fun to blindly shove your hands into when your child finally wakes for the day at 6:30).

I weighed my options. Giving her a flashlight did not seem like a great idea. I did not want her falling asleep with the flashlight on just to have it shift and wake her up at 1 a.m. I knew I did not want any of the newborn things that light up and make noise that THE BIG BABY STORES market to new moms desperate for a three-hour sleep stretch.  Instead I went for a small kitty nightlight that was at Target for under $20.

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I brought it home and Sabine selected the perfect shelf for “Kitty Flashlight” to sleep. I explained that kitty was her very special flashlight that will keep her safe at night. Then I put her to bed and she slept until 6:45 a.m. SUCCESS! JOY! I AM THE BEST MAMA EVER!

It is important to note that during all of this the Professor has been working insane hours trying to complete all his existing duties and prepare materials for the job hunt. I rarely see him and when I do, I try to keep the conversation positive and light as to not further stress him. I mentioned the nightlight and that I hoped it would help her sleep later but I did not elaborate further, as why stress him out?

Last weekend Sabine and Dada had a father/daughter adventure to Harbor Freight (I just found a typo of Harbor Fright, which is really much more accurate a description in my mind!) While they were out he sent a photo of Sabine with a little red flashlight and I said, “How sweet! Baby’s first tool!” The hell this tiny flashlight would inflict on our household totally failed to register.

That night Sabine had her bath, we read some books, had warm milk and then I laid her down to sleep. Normally she rolls to her tummy, smiles at me while I hand her two stuffed animals and then passes out. Not tonight, though. Nope, instead she sat bolt upright and started yelling for her flashlight.  Yelling turned to frantic sobbing. Frantic sobbing turned to near vomiting.

KEEP THOSE NOODLES IN THE BELLY, SABINE!

Out I went to fetch the flashlight and I, in my infinite awesomeness, took out the batteries and handed it over.

“Here you go, flashlight to keep you safe,” I said. She clicked the button twice, looked at me, and started to hyperventilate all over again.

“Broken! Flashlight! Batteries! FLASHLIGHT!”

She was totally inconsolable. After a few minutes I said night night and closed the door and frantically began Googling how to handle this situation. Meanwhile Dada was feeling like complete shit – his flashlight treat was causing major stress!

“I didn’t know this would be such an issue,” he lamented. “It’s just a flashlight! I feel like shit!”

I explained the Curious George episode and the error in our ways and his face fell even further. Determined to right his wrong he went into her room, took away the flashlight and read more books hoping she would forget. She did not. Sabine had to cry herself to sleep for the first time since she was 9 months old. It was devastating to all, including the cats who honestly just wanted their cat food and a peaceful nap.

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The next day we went to the Big Overpriced Toy Store and picked out a Glo Worm. I remember kids having these when I was a kid. Modern Glo Worms are inconceivably creepier looking than the ones we had, something I didn’t really think was possible. This big head, with creepy big eyes is attached to a tiny limbless body. It looks more like something from a sideshow than a tool to soothe the terrified toddler. But whatever, Sabine picked it out and rocked and cooed over it for the next few hours.

That night she snuggled into her bed with “Flashlight Worm” (because it is really all in how you brand this stuff) and went to sleep. I wish I could say this was the end of our early mornings, but it isn’t. Yesterday she slept till 7:30, then today she was up at 5:30 again. All because of one seemingly innocent episode of Curious George, which I guess leads me to the moral of this ramble – TV might actually be evil, Curious George is not all fun cuddly monkey and Dada’s should never be allowed to take toddlers to the tool store unsupervised.

Who else has a kid who is afraid of the dark? Any good book recommendations to help teach them that dark is not scary? Any other thoughts? I’m open to suggestions!

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11 Comments

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  1. nonsequiturchica #
    October 28, 2015

    Oh no! Izzy has been complaining about it being “too dark” as we drive home from daycare every night. She also is not a fan of when we turn off the light and close the door when we are putting her to sleep as she wants us to stay in the room with her. So far she has been okay with putting herself to sleep as she can cuddle with some of her stuffed animals or her blanket that is in her crib….but I have been thinking that she might need a nightlight soon.

    I’m part of a mommies group on Facebook and the suggestions that people had were to let your kid sleep with something that smells like you (pillow/tshirt/etc) or to let your kid cuddle with a stuffed animal. I have been telling Izzy that the kisses that I give her at night stay on her so it’s like mommy is with her all night (I think she is too young to actually get this though).

    I would also be interested in book or other suggestions!

  2. October 28, 2015

    My twelve year old daughter (she’ll be THIRTEEN in January) still sleeps with a dream light. What can I say? She likes the stars on the ceiling as she’s falling asleep and it turns itself off after twenty minutes. If you’ve ready even a few of my blog posts, you’ll see that I’ve been whining about sleep issues for almost nine years. My youngest will be nine years old next month.

    I really hope the ‘flashlight worm’ works for you guys and that Sabine goes back to being a dream sleeper.

    • October 29, 2015

      Haha! Nine years of sleep drama? What on earth have we signed up for here? 🙂

  3. APE #
    October 28, 2015

    I honestly think it is just a phase and that she will sleep through the night again. I am looking back now after reading your post and am remembering my son doing the same thing. I had him sleeping through the night with no night lights at like 6 months, and then my husband screwed that up because he found a super cool spider-man night light lamp that he thought our son just had to have. I got him back on a great routine that worked until my mom died and then I just stopped trying to do anything and the bedtime routine went right out the window and we ended up having a grumpy child who wasn’t getting enough night time sleep and was waking almost every night, and wouldn’t go to sleep without a fight. I googled it too and eventually what worked for us was something I found online, I wish I could remember the web page for you. I actually think it was a blog. But basically, you pick the bed time and do your routine (so like at 8:30 every night we go potty, put on jammies, brush teeth, and then we read two or three stories.) After that, we turn out the light and I sit with him for 10 minutes patting or rubbing his back. If he is still awake, I tell him I will come back in 10 minutes – even if he is fussing. Actually I might have said I would come back in 10 minutes as long as he stayed quiet in bed – but that was only to try to keep him from fussing. The trick is to come back in 10 minutes like you said you would. Pat for another five and then tell him you will be back in 10 minutes again. And then go back in 10 minutes (or push it out to 15 if you’d like). As said before, the trick is to come back like you said you would so they trust it. Do this over and over until he/she falls asleep. We did it every night like clockwork until we didn’t need to give him 10 minutes anymore. He is usually asleep before the first 10 minute back patting is done, and because he can’t tell time, if I am tired I will shorten it to 5 minutes of back patting, tell him I will be back in 10 minutes and when I check on him he is asleep. It has been wonderful all-night sleeping ever since.

  4. sangela71 #
    October 28, 2015

    I think the things you are trying are great ideas. Our sons (age 3y9m) were never afraid of the dark until a few months ago. Now they worry about monsters, ghosts, skeletons and pirates at bedtime, and occasionally one or both of them will get up and get into bed with us during the night, saying he is scared. This despite the fact that they have two nightlights: one the standard, no-frills type that an adult might use and the other one that projects Batman’s “bat symbol” onto the wall or ceiling.

    Fear of the dark is really common in kids, but I’m with you on being annoyed with Curious George for introducing the thought into Sabine’s head.

  5. October 28, 2015

    Natalie is afraid of the dark, hers came out of nowhere and is starting to fade. We couldn’t shut out the lights without hysterics. We got her an owl flashlight, that shuts off after 20 minutes, she’s always had her glow worm, and a dream lights which also shuts off after thirty minutes. Glow worm is tetherd to a crib bar so she can’t lose it. We taught her how to turn each one off and on. Either through a combination of those three or just a little maturation, she does much better at night, now she claims too bright to see kitty when she gets in her bed, because she can only see the dream lights if the lights are off. She still is wary of any room if it is dark and freaks out in the morning when we go downstairs and it is dark. But she really enjoys looking at her kitty on the ceiling at night, so maybe we got lucky and found the right distraction?

    • October 29, 2015

      Would you share a link to the flashlight that turns off after 20 minutes? For some reason I was having a hard time finding one!

      • Lisa @ hapahopes #
        October 30, 2015

        Dude! We got one of those light on the ceiling things that turns off on it’s own (ours was 45 minutes, though) and J named him “Huck the Turtle.” She was psyched about Huck. She was still awake when Huck turned off on his own and COMPLETELY freaked out. Now she’s afraid of the dark, nightlights, and Huck. Even though Huck has gone away (back to Amazon Land), she still says “No Huck. Go away.” Every. Freaking. Night. I’m following these comments closely. 🙂

  6. jak #
    October 30, 2015

    no suggestions on books, except if you are looking for books to AVOID. we are in the same boat, but because of a book (see my review here: http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarrys-Supermarket-Mystery-Scarry/dp/1454910119/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446225644&sr=1-1&keywords=richard+scarry+books+supermarket+mystery) . and now an imaginary friend that toddler boy calls on the phone from his crib at night and talks to for 30 minutes to an hour before drifting off. also, he’s potty trained and sleeps in underwear (not a pullup or diaper) and so every time he says, “i have to pee!” i race in to make sure i get him to the pot on time. but after doing this 3 times and nothing more is coming out i can safely say that having to pee isnt the reason. damn blackfingerwolf.

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